Urban Hypertensive African American Grandparents: Stress, Health, and Implications of Child Care

Because stress is a major factor in hypertension, research on parenting stressors and lifestyle behaviors of grandparents with hypertension is important. This study describes urban African Americans caring for grandchildren and examines effects of perceived parenting stressors on hypertension self-management. Hypertensive African American grandparents (N = 49) residing in a large Midwestern city participated in the study. Structured interviews collected descriptive data and the Index of Parental Attitudes (IPA). Participants' ages ranged from 30 to 82 years, were mostly female (77%), and had from 1 to 6 grandchildren. Participants were sedentary (51%), cigarette smokers (47%), and obese (67%). Mean systolic blood pressure was 157 and mean diastolic blood pressure was 89. IPA scores averaged 12.7, with scores ≥ 30, indicating high levels of parental stress. Some participants (8.4%) had clinically stressful relationships with their grandchildren. The correlation between blood pressure and parental stress was not statistically significant, with a significant negative correlation found between participants' ages and diastolic blood pressure. The correlation between the number of hours spent caregiving and age produced a statistically significant relationship.